Evaluating design quality assessment of apartments for policy and practice

Alexa Gower

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


The importance of apartment living in creating sustainable cities has gained wide recognition as many Australian cities are beginning to grapple with rising populations. Concurrent with this shift in prioritisation, high density housing in Melbourne has experienced increasing pressures in terms of affordability and financialisation. Many practitioners, policy makers and members of the public have expressed concern of about the quality of living that current apartment designs offer as a result. The role of government intervention in design quality in high density housing through regulations has also seen increasing attention. Debate has occurred on the role and ability of assessment tools to improve design quality and whose interests they best serve.

In response to these concerns, this research seeks to understand how design quality assessment tools vary and what are their possibilities and limitations to supporting improved design quality in apartments? This research question involves an interdependence between the normative lens of how should design assessment tools define quality as well as an awareness of the political context of the policy making process that influences this definition. Focusing on recent changes to high density housing regulation in Melbourne and the UK, this paper will firstly analyse the normative approach of communicative planning and compare this to the political understanding of power through phronetic analysis. Lastly it will outline how the strength in one method complements the weakness of the other so as to provide a better understanding of these tools and insights to how planning regulation can be altered to encourage improved design quality in apartments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSOAC 2017
Place of PublicationAdelaide, SA, Australia
PublisherAustralian Cities Research Network
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventState of Australian Cities (SOAC) Conference 2017 - Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 28 Nov 201730 Nov 2017
Conference number: 8th


ConferenceState of Australian Cities (SOAC) Conference 2017
Abbreviated titleSOAC 2017
Internet address


  • apartments
  • design quality
  • regulation
  • assessment tools
  • policy making process

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